In How to Use Cases in Research Methods Teaching, Janet E. Salmons, PhD, writes about how case studies can be used to aid classroom teaching of Research Methods. A member of the graduate faculty of the Capella University School of Business and an independent researcher and writer, Salmons has written extensively on research.
“Cases offer something different from an article or book about research methods,” she writes. “The experiences of researchers who confront the challenges of moving from orderly research design to the reality of actual participants and a messy world."
Salmons outlines several classroom activities and assignments to be used alongside case studies, including the following, which is appropriate for an introductory methodology course:
Understand the research approach.
Ask your students to identify the research design elements described by the case author. Once they have identified the qualitative or quantitative methodologies and methods, they will have a basis for understanding and evaluating the research approach. After students review the case, you can ask them the following questions and direct them to outline their initial analysis:
1. What research approach is followed? Is it clear from reading the case? Does the case author utilize qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods?
2. What, if any, epistemological or theoretical frameworks are described in the case? Is it clear from reading the case? Find at least one source to read and familiarize yourself with the selected epistemologies or theories.
3. What methodologies are described in the case? What methodologists are referenced? Find at least one source to read and familiarize yourself with the basic principles and perspectives represented in this methodology.
4. What methods are used to collect and/or analyze data in the case? What methods texts are referenced? Find at least one source to read and familiarize yourself with the basic steps and approaches associated with the selected method(s).
5. Outline information derived from this exploration to create a context for your analysis.